If you choose to stay off of social media are you being antisocial?

Merriam Webster’s Definition of antisocial:

1 : averse to the society of others : unsociable

2 : hostile or harmful to organized society; especially : being or marked by behavior deviating sharply from the social norm

I don’t currently engage in any forms of social media. I thought I did, until I was recently told that LinkedIn is not considered social media. I’ve been told it’s something different, although I’m not exactly sure what that is.

Although I have my concerns about privacy, my main reason for not engaging in social media is the immense amount noise and my inability to disconnect from it. We recently heard confessions from executives at social media companies like Facebook that high-powered computer programs are specifically written to entice people to consistently check their social media feeds and stay on their social media platforms.

Ad space on websites is sold based upon how sticky a website is and social media platforms try to be the stickiest. This is not my grandmothers infomercial or TV commercials during the 10 o’clock news. This is something much more powerful.

I am human and as much as I have tried to set limitations for myself, I am susceptible to these well executed tactics. I found myself endlessly scrolling through feeds and reading articles from multiple sources on the same stories with little to no variation in details. All the while, I was hoping that one outlet would have a detail on the story that another had missed out on. This I believe, is how the idea of fake news came about. If you can’t find the facts, make em up, so long as you keep people “stuck” on the page.

I found this to be a huge waste of time and quite honestly very over stimulating. I already feel like I am inundating myself with information, so I didn’t need that high octane kick from a social media platform. I am currently learning a language, reading a novel, writing articles and such, working full-time, and also trying to be the best husband and a dad.

On top of all I have going on in my life, the little free time I had was spent continuously dragging down to refresh my Twitter account’s feed. In all honesty, there was not much time left for just good old fashioned thinking.

So, back to my original question, does it make people who are not into social media antisocial? Antisocial is defined as being averse to the society of others. Society has embraced social media with open arms and invited it into our jobs, homes and even our kids’ lives. Schools plan events on social media websites like Facebook and share class pictures on Instagram.

What if a parent doesn’t want to use these platforms?

They kind of have to, right? It’s a tough spot to be in as a parent, because nowhere in signing your kids up for school did it say that you would also have to have a Facebook account, but you could also easily just set one up in minutes, so why not?

Over and over again, I see situations where by default, institutions, clubs or even just friends rely heavily on social media, with the assumption that everyone else is on board. If one of those friends, students or members of a group doesn’t partake in social media does it make them antisocial?

I don’t quite know the answer yet, and I am asking you!

“being or marked by behavior deviating sharply from the social norm”

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The Honeymooners to Seinfeld: Technology Over TV’s Timeline

When I was a kid I remember watching TV shows with my dad and him explaining things to me that I thought were completely ridiculous, like a phone number being comprised of letters and numbers. There’s an episode of the Honeymooners where Ralph and Alice Kramden get a telephone. In the episode of the Honeymooners, “The Babysitter”, Ralph and Alice’s telephone number is BE 0-7741, where the BE stands for BENSONHURST. For anyone who doesn’t know, Bensonhurst is a neighborhood in Brooklyn.

I remember my dad went on to tell me that when he was a kid his house had a phone with a party line, which meant that other people on his block were able to use the same phone line. If someone else had to make a call they would have to wait for the person to finish their call. Even then as a kid in the 90’s, I thought what my dad was explaining to me was an ancient concept, like using courier pigeons or sending smoke signals, but it was only 30 years or so prior to my birth.

Now fast forward to today’s time. I still watch shows that I loved as a kid, like Seinfeld or Friends. The last episode of Seinfeld aired in 1998, which is 20 years ago. I have watched every episode several times and there was never a discussion of the technologies that we are so accustomed to using today, except for maybe cable TV.

A memorable episode of Seinfeld is one where Jerry, George and Elaine are waiting in a Chinese restaurant for a table. They have been waiting for quite a while and they are concerned that they’ll miss a movie they’re supposed to be going to as a result of the long wait. They debate whether or not to just leave and grab a burger so they can still catch the movie. George tells them that he can’t go because he is waiting for a call from a woman about a second date.

I could never imagine in a million years giving anyone the number of a restaurant and having someone call me there on the restaurant’s phone. At the time, when this episode aired, this appeared to be normal. Now, 20 years later, the idea is outrageous to me. Everyone has a cell phone and in an updated version of this episode, George would probably have just texted Tatiana asking her about a second date.

I doubt I’ll ever stop watching Seinfeld, and I am curious to hear my kid’s reactions to episodes like these with “ancient” forms of technology when they are older. In 2028 what will this episode mean to them, and what kind of technology will we even be using then, I wonder? Considering that technology is advancing so rapidly, it’s quite possible that my kids could be  unaware of what George is doing in that restaurant, that a question won’t even come up.

We’ll just have to wait and see I guess. I’m still waiting for that flying car from Back To The Future II!